Thursday, November 15, 2012

Valencia Marathon Week 11/11

Week 10. Objective ECOs 200, actual ECOs 172

I think I managed to make a more or less credible final little push in my training, in spite of the unforeseen 5 week taper. I did very little training this week, the only session worth mentioning being a classic pre-Marathon set of two 10 minute runs at Marathon pace followed by two series of a kilometre at 17.5 kph.

In spite of Wednesday being a general strike in Madrid, I went to work and I did my training for the day. My wife had insisted on not using any electricity in the house as a gesture of solidarity to those who were respecting the strike so, when I got home, I found the kids eating dinner by candlelight. It didn't stop me from doing my run on the (electrically powered) treadmill but I did find it a little bit disconcerting running in the dark.

So, as they say in Spanish, "la suerte está echada" - in other words the die is cast. Alea iacta est. This reminds me of a fantastic book I read once called The Dice Man, which I have decided to re-read. The protagonist in the book is supposedly the author, Luke Rhinehart - a bored psychopathic psychiatrist on the border of depression - although this is actually a pen-name for the real author, George Cockcroft who acted out some of the parts of the book in real life. In order to escape from the chains of responsibility and the humdrum of everyday life, he realizes that he can delegate all decisions to the role of a die and yet have full control over the six possibilities that it can deliver up. In this way, he can do extremely irresponsible things without having to accept the culpability ("The die made me do it."). A Marathon is arguably a more responsible activity than some of the things that Dr Rhinehart gets up to in his book but I've done everything I can to ensure a favourable set of positive outcomes on Sunday, so now it is for the die to decide. This is my favourite part of Marathon "training": putting my feet up and eating lots of pasta.

Although there is no point in worrying between now and lining up for the start, I will make sure I set aside a quiet time - probably on the train to Valencia - in which I can visualize the race. It's important to go through all the scenarios that the die might throw up and have a response for each of them. For example, what if:
- My heart rate is too high for the given pace
- I get a twinge in a muscle or even a cramp
- I realize that I am going more slowly than I hoped or expected
- I get to the halfway mark much faster than I expected
- I start to slow down dramatically
- I feel like stopping
- It is very windy or it is raining
- It is very humid (hot or cold)
- Someone pisses me off
- I find myself running at the head of the race (only joking)

By the way, the Valencia Marathon has over 15,000 participants if you include the 6,000 that are running the 10K portion in parallel. In terms of foreign entries, this represents an increase of 150% which is surely due in no small part to the cancellation of the New York Marathon. The article on the Marathon website is worth reading even if it is just for the amusing translation into English: "Divina Pastora Valencia Marathon sprayed their own records".

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